Thursday, 31 March 2016

A sunny day in the garden

My desire was to spend the next few days taking Daisy for a walk in the morning and spending each afternoon in the garden.  Unfortunately the weather has other ideas; we've got loads of rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday and I've got loads to do outside.  The logical option was to spend all day outside, play with Daisy (nearly) every time I stopped to look up from what I was doing, and by the end of the day both of us were completely exhausted.





It doesn't look like much, but this lot kept me occupied for a good few hours:

Some rubbish became another "wee beastie pile" rather than filling the council bin.





The compost I have isn't as well rotted as I would like but I've run out of really good stuff and mulching the Bulb Bed needed finishing. The fritillaria are doing well this year with loads of new shoots visible so the plants are definitely bulking up.  There are a couple of shoots which might be the Common Spotted Orchids and nearer the house there is lots of growth which I hope are the Camassia.  They did not do well last year having to compete with the weeds which had taken over.

And yes, that really is a large dog bed next to the bench.  Daisy wouldn't sit in it today but perhaps if she gets used to it . . . earlier in the month when we had some good weather and she was outside with me her tummy immediately got red and inflamed.  Too early for grass pollen or mites so goodness knows what she is allergic to, poor little girl.





Half a dozen pots of Grape Hyacinth from B&Q have filled the little area underneath what used to be a magnolia (before Management chopped it down).





Storm Katie didn't bring as much chaos to the north of the country as expected, but we woke up to find four troughs of daffodils blown off the new wall and strewn across the drive.  Thankfully they missed M's car and the caravan (a couple had traveled a surprising distance) and there was very little damage.  Buried in blog lag is the fact that LP has nearly finished the back of the vegetable patch so there are new beds along the fence.  I'm planning Globe Artichokes in a couple of the bays, and annual flowers in a couple, so the current idea is to have a row of daffs all along the back.  The decaying foliage will be hidden by whatever grows in the summer and they should look lovely at a time of year when there's not much growing in this area.



Some carpentry in the Cottage Garden . . . all will be revealed when LP or M cuts a sheet of weld mesh for me!   (I'll tackle most things but I draw the line at metalwork and angle grinders).



The laurel hedge got an annual haircut, and there was much standing around looking at the view and marveling at the clarity and quality of light today.



The frogspawn is no more - we now have hundreds of tiny tadpoles in all the ponds.  I am still on Beetle Watch . . .














Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A bootful of bounty :-}

The box edging I put in last year seems to be doing well and I'm surprised to find how much I like the simple formality of it.  I want to do more but these days box is becoming a tad too risky, first box blight and now a rampant caterpillar with a voracious appetite.  Jessica at Rusty Duck has had the brilliant idea of using Lonicera nitida instead, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

After lunch today I had a quick sprint around the supermarket followed by a short drive to my favourite nursery.  It was lovely to see Jim and Robert again, and for my first visit of the year to be warm and sunny with bees buzzing everywhere.  They have done loads of work over the winter and the site is looking very smart.





I couldn't see any Lonicera so I asked . . . and then I wandered away to look at something . . . and when I came back two large trays had appeared :-}  And it would have been rude to ignore the tempting display of Snakeshead Fritillary, nor could I leave behind seven pots of small hellebores - unnamed, no idea of the colour.  Last time I bought anonymous hellebore from this nursery they turned into 'Cinderella', a quite beautiful double, and although the plants have not done terribly well this Spring in previous years the display has been stunning. I also have a sneaky love for primulas which seems to be growing and developing quietly, and one of numerous projects for this Spring is to dig up those which have found themselves dotted around the garden and consolidate the 'collection' in just one or two locations (oh, doesn't that sound grand, pfnar, pfnar, pfnar!!)   The collection was enhanced today by some delicate, lilac Primula cortusoides.  Trouble is, I only purchased two little trays, just 8 tiny plants . . . I already know I'm going to have to go back for more!

I'm nearly embarrassed that the entire haul cost less than a pub lunch for two, guess I'm still getting trade rates!



And whilst I was out, Maryport Fireplace Centre came and fitted something we have been planning for YEARS, just never managed to get organised enough to arrange.  Solid oak, beautifully finished - love it, love it, love it :-}




Sunday, 27 March 2016

The View From

I would be a liar if I implied our life in West Cumbria is a little patch of perfection.  It is not.  It contains all the same irritations and frustrations that (nearly) everyone has to deal with - "interesting" weather, endless repairs and renovations, idiotic local councils, an over-stretched health service and so on.

In the 21st century there are very few, if any, places where life is a perfect idyll all the time.  But there are also very few places where you can enjoy views like this from the comfort of your sitting room and still be within easy reach of shops and services.

No apology for so many sunrise pictures:-}

























I'll take our version of less-than-perfect any time!   

















Saturday, 26 March 2016

Absolutely naff day

I am loath to say "typical Bank Holiday" but today has been quite horrible and we feel very sorry for anyone who has come up here for an Easter holiday; high wind and rain all day, and very cold too.  Daisy was only prepared to venture outside for the most essential of toilet breaks and who can blame her?

Whether it was tiredness from yesterday (which was the 4th day with LP in the last eight . . . must get blog up to date!) or a hangover from the cold/bug that has been lurking around for the last month but I spent nearly all day dozing on the sofa.

So as I have nothing nice from the garden or the fells to show for an Easter Saturday, it is a chance to sort through a few miscellaneous pictures which have been loitering in the 'unprocessed' folder for too long.


A rare moment to sunbathe:



Not waiting until the quilt was trimmed or bound:



The guy who owns this field always manages to cut the hedge just at the right time to ensure none of the hawthorn can flower :-{



Not nearly enough of this over the last few months





At a friend's farm with a long lens so as not to disturb the new mums.










Friday, 25 March 2016

Today would have been much nicer without the wind

But let us not complain, there was no rain and after the last six months a lack of precipitation is a decidedly good thing!  But, it being a Bank Holiday, Management was not working and LP was so much had been planned.  Unfortunately, the plan to assemble LP's old shed first thing failed when we found that the tarps laid down to cover the floor had not succeeded in keeping last night's rain off the wood.

So the men moved onto welding all morning (which had been planned for after lunch) whilst the wind dried the shed floor . . .







And by the end of the day much welding was accomplished, the shed was built and new roofing felt was applied to the ridge.  The shed panels arrived last year on 17th September - six months is not bad going by Bag End standards!



I achieved some serious pruning in the Cottage Garden but the largest bed (between us and next door) is going to need a heck of a lot of weeding.  As our neighbour does absolutely nothing in his garden we are at the mercy of the weed seeds that get blown around and the ground elder that grows unchecked on his side of the fence.







I thought I'd publish all these pictures of the mess (which is partially self-inflicted because I did nothing in this part of the garden last year) so that when it is back under control I can enjoy looking at the Before and After!







We managed a huge amount but it wasn't pleasant - the wind was bitterly cold - and M & LP were welding on the shady side of the house which is always a few degrees colder than the front.  It will all be worth it when this project is finished and we finally have a nice step out of the kitchen rather than the current drop onto the old concrete plinth:-}






David Attenborough moments

I am more than a little mindful that it is now two weeks since I managed a new blog post.  In those two weeks we've had a wonderful spell of dry weather so there has been MUCH gardening.  Additionally there's all the other 'little things' which take up oodles of time - Daisy, the house, hobbies - so lucky little me has a real First World problem - Too Busy To Blog!

But if I don't get back into the habit of snatching a moment now and again to record what happens here then I am going to find myself with one of those horrendous backlogs. And I really don't want to do that :-}

So to this morning - before 7.30am I had rescued a bumble bee from the sitting room and moved her to a pot of polyanthus, disturbed two crows who were about to pick up a frog and have a fresh breakfast, and HAPPY DAY, noticed two Great Diving Beetle in the top pond and managed to remove them.  That involved sprinting down to the Big Pond in dressing gown and wellies, grabbing a net, and sprinting back.  As the beetles in question were busy "making more beetles" they were uncharacteristically unaware of what was going on outside the water and stayed put long enough for me to ruin their happy moment.

Who needs David Attenborough?  We've got our own nature reserve!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Twice in one week?

Having just watched the first two episodes of the new season of Gardener's World (aww, isn't Nelly the new retriever lovely)? I feel very horticulturally inspired.  Darn good job too because there have been times over the past few months when I wondered if we would ever be able to garden again.  

Slightly unbelievably I managed a second day in the garden on Thursday.  Darn good job too because Tuesday and Wednesday had turned out to be extremely shitty and I was in much need of a mood enhancer.  Nothing but "First World problems" including but not restricted to a car which wouldn't start (knackered battery), a delivery which didn't turn up, and a delivery which eventually did turn up and was sent back because it was damaged.

So it was with much relief that I was able to have another stab at the Fedge Bed.  Not as warm and sunny as Monday but still dry and bright enough to garden for a few hours.  As I resisted the temptation of sneaking into the greenhouse by the time I had to pack up most of the out of control honeysuckle was cut back, a wild and thoroughly bad-tempered rose had been cut down to the ground and half of the bed was dug over.



The rose has a malevolence that would not be out of place in a remake of The Exorcist with thorns that believe their role in the world is to remove your flesh.  Trouble is, the dratted thing is beautiful and the bees love it (the scent is not bad either);  it is also the only rose I seem to be able to cultivate which grows strongly and does not succumb to blackspot.  I have cut it completely down to the ground and hope that as it regrows I will be able to keep it under better control.



It is entirely my own fault that creeping buttercup has crept back in but thankfully the ground is soft enough that is came up fairly well.



I might even have finished it if not for a momentary lapse of concentration whilst I was cutting up rose & honeysuckle in order to maximise what went into the Council green bin.  I really had no idea my Felco's were quite that sharp . . .



Much Hibiscrub (ouch), butterfly sutures and sterile dressings and dear Management didn't once tell me I was an idiot (although he had every right to).  But he did help me clear up and move the bins, and not mind that dinner was late because I went for a soak in the bath :-}

On a happier note, last year when we had the slate chippings put down I created little beds under the seats in our Arbor.  I planted them up with some Common Dog Violets that my favourite nursery had given me for free.  The plants were in a right mess and Robert reckoned he could not sell them so I might as well have them.  After a summer's TLC in the nursery and a warm & damp winter in their new home I was surprised to find one plant in flower - their normal flowering period is April - June.